#tbt 5 years ago was a fight or flight point moment. Losing my brother really took a tow of me, which I even considered on hang up the martial arts forever (obviously, I haven’t quit). Granted, this was an unprecedented emotional experience for me; therefore, I didn’t know where to go. I mainly trained by myself, no school backing me or anything. I needed time to figure what’s my true purpose. I competed at a martial arts tournament in Cincinnati as verdict for my future direction.
Despite my oppressing moments, defeat was not an option. I went all the way to fight for overall grand! God shown me the light to never quit no matter the circumstances and do what you are passionate about! From then on, I recognized my purpose. Personally, thank my parents and my son being at my corner through it all (celebrating my victory with my pink polo and denim jacket 😉 )!!
It’s amazing how the fashion cycle functions! One trend is out whereas there’s that ” it item” to obtain. With that being said, I remember not to long ago 3 button jackets (i.e. suits, blazers, sport-coats, etc) were frowned upon because they were considered outdated. To be honest, I have also fallen for that sartorial trap (within the exception of my Thom Browne blazer for Neiman Marcus Target collection). On the flip side, revolutionary designers such Junya Wantanabe, Raf Simons, and Dior Homme decided to fight against the fashion norm while challenging its “sartorial etiquette” . In fact, they have been embracing this for the past few seasons in their collections. Based on proper suiting, its been a golden rule to only button the middle button (occasionally the first 2) and never button all three! However, these designers counter attacked with the utilization of all three! It does look appealing, but its not for everyone. I question whether if this will strike a vengeance as a major trend for others to fall sheep for or another trend to defy the old-fashioned rules (i.e. not wearing white after labor day).
Sometimes I don’t get the pleasure of hanging out with some old friends. My good friend (brother from another mother) decided to come in town from Indianapolis to pay a visit. On a random day, you have to search for these things to do in Louisville. It’s best to stick to your guns and find something artistically creative. Gaining inspiration from some dope exhibits would certainly do the trick!
Sidebar: Cuong and I (along with my brother) both played saxophone in high school. Two video game geeks playing covers from our favorite RPG games in our spare time lol. Those were the good times because they were absolutely no worries and no fucks given. He has always talked about designing video games. Ironically, he obtained his degree in digital animation whereas he’s starting to do projects for independent video game companies. Dude is really trying to do his thing!
There is a trend about “no new friends” or whatnot, but sometimes you have to erase the old friends who hindering your progress. Fortunately, it is not the case with him. I admire his ambition and hustle towards his art. In reality, our friendship has grown on another level because we are searching beyond greatness!
My lady and myself decided to step out in style at a local “industry gathering” hosted by a couple of my good friends from Glass Label. The idea of the gathering was to have local creative people network in a social setting. Creativity was from photography, film, modeling, styling, fashion, music, etc. It was great to see some old faces and new faces (contacts as well). Another good night with people who knew how to have fun!
I haven’t trained here in a while. There is never a moment it does not feel like home stepping into the dojo. The martial artist (Jeremy) who owns the building is always adding new shit. Sick MMA is probably the second martial arts facility I go and train whenever I get the chance! If you want to work on tradition martial arts (i.e. Judo, Wing Chun) to Boxing or MMA, Sick MMA is the place to do in the kentuckiana area. Recently, I have decided to put in some extra work because a brotha needs to lose some weight and get right for this local tournament. Timing is everything to me. It doesn’t matter how fast or hard I perform a technique; on the other hand, its useless to give the satisfaction of stepping into the ring.
Besides cardio, one of my main issues was drilling. Drilling is probably more important than sparring because you are actually working out the kinks. It gives you the chance to focus on timing and reflexes. Personally, I love drilling better than sparring because there is always a new discovery about myself. Its time to put on the sauna suit and pack a sweat!
This morning, I got the chance to watch a bio-film about Jean Michel Basquiat. I was already intrigued about his work as artist due to his affiliation with pop artist, Andy Warhol. Being an artist requires integrity. How can we stay true to ourselves when we can’t stay true to our art/craft/aesthetic. Whatever we do as art (in my case, martial arts and fashion) should be treated like a sanctuary. A utopia where negativity becomes positive or creative energy, Lines aren’t always straight, and coloring outside the lines, etc.
Despite his efforts to remain true, he was inevitably exploited from his talents whereas it destroyed himself and the very few people who supported him when he had nothing. As I watched this, I question the battle between fame vs integrity. Is this price of fame we all strive for? Do we confuse success with fame? People constantly dissecting our lives like a scientist performing a genetic experiment? Will my integrity be altered in such circumstances? Some of the most artistic and influential people are often the most loneliest. A high cloud where the layman would not begin to comprehend. The only language that speaks to them is the art, not the artist.
The truth of the matter lies he wanted the drug of fame but unaware of what side effects it could deliver. For example, he was a heavy drug addict. A man’s escape from reality has manifested into a tragic exit. From a series of unprecedented short comings, I became angry of the inability to become a top martial artist competitor, having my fashion label, and styling work. I resented the phrase, “in due time”. However, I reflected from my shortcomings and appreciated it. Experience added fuel to push forward in life. Moderation is key!! Excessive dosage of anything can plunge the individual. This is what I have learned from Basquiat. Seeing how people can treat you and how you treat others (Whether you in the elite or an underdog) is essential. No matter what we experience, must maintain that integrity. I will use his life as a lesson of awareness (minues the drugs; I am drug free). I hope my years of martial arts experience helps reinforces that.
Tonight I went to sparring practice at Olympic Karate studio. It was great to actually working out with other black belts. sadly, I have not gotten the chance to workout with any one for the past 2 weeks. After sparring for about 4-5 rounds, I knew there needed to be major changes! To top everything off was when the instructor, Brian Ruth, stated how much I fell off and needed to get back in shape. To be honest with you, I needed that! It was the most honest thing I could have heard because it was the truth. How often do we expect others to compliment our art, but do not want the bad aspect; that is counter productive.
As artist, we have no room to feel hurt because they give you an honest opinion. It is called constructive criticism. It is designed to break you down and build you back. It’s no different from the inspiration derived from adversities one has faced. If we all try to neglect constructive criticism, how do we expect to grow as artist? Honesty is key. You have to honest about your progress in your craft. we are always not going to hit a home run. We are going to get caught slipping here and there, but champions build other champions. Champions don’t shy aware from criticism. They crave it!
I thank him for giving me the reassurance of my lack of physical training. I must grow! On a brighter note, I did land a jump spin sidekick tonight.. enough typing, more training!
Nowadays, I have not gotten the chance to train with anyone else. I must admit it has been a very frustrated experience balancing work, curate my upcoming label and being with my little family. For example, there is no one available to critique you (determine you what you are doing wrong or what you can improve, declined sense of timing, etc.) it sucks.. some times life sucks as well. On the contrary, it ultimately depends on your interpretation of life. Recently, a testimony begin to marinate in my subconscious mind exploding into the unfathomable appreciation of my current position. One word to describe it, rediscovery.
While training, I had to become realistic based on my techniques. Like fashion, martial arts correlates to the concept of “less is more”. We always reflect back to the basics which has allowed to open the door of our progression. These very same basics are built our journey in learning ourselves. its helps us strength our techniques and evolve into advance technique (i.e. martial arts tricking and locks and traps).
From a sport martial arts aspect, I always felt compelled to always execute multiple kicking. Instead, I micro-analyzed everything from my footwork to my striking (speed and power). This process was treated as if a tailor would curate a couture dress or a bespoken suit. In fashion terms, these items are made to only fit that particular individual. I never realized how great it felt to strictly work on basics techniques on another level. we try to work on things we find to be attractive. Somethings we find attractive isn’t compatible to our built. Perfect what’s made particularly for yourself.
I look at the fighters and form practitioners I admired throughout the years. Often times, I would imitate those moves based of its cosmetic effect to my eye. When I have been frustrated why things have not worked out to my advantage is because I never tried to work out my basics to that extreme higher level until now. Of course, I have improved in training, physically. On other hand, it’s that training for what is fit for you and making it your own. Developing that exploding feeling of a backfist and a solid side kick striking the heavy bag helped me realize it. This is something no one had to tell me. This is something I discovered all on my own. That’s the hidden beauty some of us never tend discover from ourselves. It’s not a martial arts testimony, but a life testimony.
Fridays are always good for a reason. Not only its the start of the weekend,but liberation from the 9 to 5 world. It’s refreshing to release your mind from your regular day-to-day life of working for the man. in 2013, I am seeking to make a change about that! seeing art is where the inspiration begins. The art event at the land of tomorrow was where me and couple members of Projekt: F.O.N. The hipster spot when you got the chance rock on to eclectic music and gaze through visual pieces. It was like Utopia.
Since I was going to an art gallery with some colleagues, I would have thought it would be great to given a classic look. I wanted to accent my black and white ensemble with my clear glasses (an homage to Andy Warhol). Something which gave an understated, yet artistic appeal.
My ensemble: Blazer: Express; Jeans: Michael Kors; Turtleneck: Vintage; Loafers: Salvatore Ferragamo; Glasses: Forever 21
I was not expecting this at all! Kenneth Cole Collection for 2013 is definitely dope! This is truly a stylish, yet possess functional pieces which could appeal to a contemporary men. What attracted me the most about the collection was the lovely detail from woven stripe knits to the leather tops. The tailoring screams a fine line between American and European. If you are thinking about the Kenneth Cole at your local department, you must be mistaken. He has decided to upgrade ya (style wise and price wise). These designers coming with bus drivers uppercuts with their fashion tactics. Gotta love it!
Today was a beautiful day enough for me to rock my yellow Michael Kors jeans (they were originally white). Recently, I have been going through a hip hop/rock-star mood. However, it was great add a change in the mix! The ensemble shown above is to express my aesthetic of the day, All-American prep. I chose to rock this vintage glen plaid/houndstooth jacket under my light blue John Varvatos shirt, Polo neck tie, Murano vest, my recently Michael Kors dyed yellow denim pants to add a pop of color and with my favorite Salvatore Ferragamo loafers!
Its alright to have a distinctive style. After all, style is indeed personal. Because it is personal, I want to make sure I express more than one side of myself. So should you!